Maintenance fee in Bulgaria

Buying real estate in Bulgaria, be it a beautiful complex with a swimming pool or an imposing living building in the city downtown, is an important step requiring serious financial investments. Before purchasing an apartment, it is necessary to analyze the acquired property price as well as the maintenance costs that the owner will have to bear in future. The expenses depend on whether the apartment was purchased in a complex or in an ordinary residential building. Quality of services provided by the management company has an impact as well.

The property maintenance costs in Bulgaria are not as high as in other European countries. Low prices for real estate, along with affordable service and housing rates, make Bulgaria very attractive for buying a house or an apartment.

Maintenance of real estate in Bulgaria

The property support costs in Bulgaria are following:

  • Utility bills - water, electricity, heating (if applicable). The amount depends on the meters’ actual results.
  • Property tax. Calculated based on housing tax value.
  • Utility tax. This is a tax covering utilization waste costs. The rate is determined by the municipality.
  • Internet, television, telephone. Most often, the owner finds the provider, controls the costs independently.
  • Fee covering use of common facilities and infrastructure.

What is the maintenance agreement, general concept and description

Apartments’ owners usually have no issues with taxes and utility bills. At the same time the support charge causes many questions.

In Bulgaria, management companies are responsible for keeping living complexes and residential buildings in a proper state. They are mainly appointed by developers. However, recently, homeowners began choosing management companies or appointing a council (committee) of owners independently. These bodies are responsible for the condition, support, repair of the living complexes and resort complexes infrastructure.

The regulation of issues between the owners and management companies are covered in maintenance agreements. The contract describes parties’ rights and obligations. 

Based on the contract, the owner may demand the company to fulfill its responsibilities. The management company gets a right to request the apartment owners to make payments for the services. The amount is calculated based on accepted tariffs and is called maintenance fee or support charge. 

Maintenance fee calculation

Support charge rates, methods of their calculation are determined by each complex individually..

In Bulgaria, there are two main approaches to the calculation:

  • The annual payment value is determined in Euros or Leva per 1 square meter. The amount payable depends on the premises total area. For example, a management company or owner’s committee decided that the support charge was 7 Euro / sq. m. The owner of the 40 sq. m. studio apartment pays Euro 280 per year. A 60 sq. m. one bedroom apartment owner pays Euro 420 per year.
  • The amount payable is the same for all the homeowners regardless of the apartment type and size. The value is also determined by the management company or owners’ committee. In this case, the 40 sq. m. studio owner and the person owning a 60 sq. m. one bedroom apartment will pay the same rate, for example, Euro 500 per year.

The support charge calculation is based on the services that the management company provides during the year. All of them are to be described in the support agreement. The principle is simple – the more services are provided to homeowners, the higher the rate.

What service are included in the annual maintenance fee?

Each complex has its own specifics, which determines the support rate value. It depends on many factors, for example, the number of apartments, service level. Still, the main factor is the services provided.

Typically, the fee includes following:

  • Security, video surveillance.
  • Common areas cleaning - corridors, hall, stairs, reception.
  • Lighting in the common areas.
  • Elevators’ maintenance, repair.
  • Cosmetic, major repairs of common areas, including the roof.
  • Cleaning, gardening services. Depending on the complex class, this can be territory cleaning, gardener’s or landscape designer’s work.
  • Pool maintenance, including filling it with water, installation, updating the filtration system, preservation for the winter period, re-preservation.
  • Repair of children's, sports grounds, volleyball, soccer fields, tennis court, golf course if available.
  • Cleaning, repairs of gyms, saunas, solariums.

In some cases, the charge may include additional services:

  • Assistance in rental apartments;
  • Services that the complex usually provides on a payable basis, for example, SPA-center, solarium, sauna.

The charge does not cover:

  • Electricity costs;
  • Water consumption costs;
  • Annual taxes.

Nuances, advantages and disadvantages of maintenance fee 

Payment for using the living complex services allows keeping it clean, neat. With proper organization, the money is spent for internal territory, pool maintenance, landscaping. The complex, which is over 10 years old, may look like new. The main advantage of the support fee is a guaranteed availability of assets for maintenance and repair. 

Coming to vacation from year to year or permanently living in the complex, you can enjoy the coziness and beauty, without wasting time, money, or nerves to find out why the pool does not work or the elevator broke down again.

On the other hand, over the time, the annual payment, even if it seemed low at the stage of buying real estate, begins to put pressure on the family budget. Those who come to the complex for only a few weeks a year begin to feel especially negative about it. The rate seems disproportionate to the services that a person really receives.

Another negative point that homeowners face is that the management company does not always faithfully fulfill its responsibilities. As a result, the support charge is made in full, but the services are not provided.
Thus, when choosing a property, it is important to take into account the maintenance fee rate, evaluate the services provided, possible risks.

Maintenance fee in residential buildings

Support charge in complexes is taken for granted. Those who do not want to pay it, buy apartments in Bulgaria in ordinary residential buildings without pools, landscape designers, and other services. However, the residents of some living buildings also have to pay maintenance fee. It is small, usually only Leva 80-150 per year.

The fee usually includes:

  • Common areas cleaning expenses.
  • Elevator service.
  • Lamps replacing in common areas.

It is easy to recognize a living building where support charge is not paid. It is dirty and dark inside, elevators do not work.

Is it possible not to pay maintenance fee?

There is no simple approach to the issue of paying a support charge. As of the date of the article, the law obliging owners to pay for the use of common parts has not been yet adopted.

Still, a number of residential complexes insist on signing service contracts. Some management companies even insist on participating in a notary deal registration to make sure that the service agreement will be signed. The payment responsibility might be stated in the Notary Act. In this case there is no alternative – the fee must be paid. Breaking contractual responsibilities may lead to court. 

In the absence of a support contract, some owners do not pay a fee. In this case they are limited in access to common areas and services. For example, they cannot use a swimming pool, an elevator. For your own peace of mind and to receive quality service, it is recommended to make timely payments in full. Quite often payment terms can be used.

There is a curious way to get funds to support a living building. It is to get an agreement between tenants and advertising companies about placing ad on the building. The surface rental fee might be substantial.

You can find property sale and rental offers with or without maintenance fee on our agency’s website.

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